Becca Barniskis Poems




When I Used to Live in the Mountains


The view obstructed by the view. A rush of clouds

closing over the peaks, breaking, releasing, rushing

on. My home slid a little. The place where I

gathered berries kept moving. I rarely ate them.

Rivulets trickled by my feet. Smoke from my

chimney trickled upward—blue and woodsy and

announcing me. I received all visitors as a recluse

might: I absented myself. Now living in the city, I

am grateful for the bodies packed in around me,

each in their anointed slot of bedroom, bed,

someone else's arms and worries. When I recall

anything I remember the freedom to walk

unattended through miles of pine and ice, the sky an

open eye that clouded and closed and never blinked.





Someone Else’s Bed


Anchor winched up and away he went, sails

unfurled in the wind. Rudderless, nonetheless. And

yet trying to steer his ship towards her. A deep

instinct for the coastline and an aversion to open

sea. He did not understand the forces (sirens)

pulling him. He thought he might be choosing.

Alone on the deck he would catch a glimpse of

green sky at dawn, cloaked with iron clouds. And

then it would rain. And then he would hide. And

then her body would be there, an island, a

harbor, a soft, warm cliché where he enjoyed his own

loneliness at great length.






Becca Barniskis lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota where she works as a poet, teaching artist and free-lance writer and consultant in arts education. She also edits the Resource Exchange section of the Teaching Artist Journal. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Conduit, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, the Northwest Review and other journals.



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